What do you recommend I use to wash my car in the sun?
April 24, 2009 8:39 PM   Subscribe

Can some one recommend a good quality car wash that is safe to use when washing my car in the sun?

My wife and I bought a new convertible car last year. I don't have a garage, but do keep the car covered with a fitted cover all the time it sits in the driveway, mostly because of the bird droppings. The manual says not to use an automated car wash because of it being a convertible which is fine with me, I've always enjoyed washing my vehicles by hand anyways. I would like to hand wash it before the sun sets, but all the car wash liquids I see in the stores say "not to be used in direct sunlight". The only time there isn't direct sunlight on the car is in the evening.
Can anybody recommend a good quality car wash that can be used in direct sunlight ( and maybe leave NO waterspots)as well as giving me any advice regarding keeping the top (black cloth) looking new? Are there products available for this? I live in southwestern Ontario, Canada.
posted by Taurid to Grab Bag (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I think anything will leave spots if you let the sun dry it. (It is especially bad on a recently-waxed car.) I suspect this is all the warning means on these products.

I don't think any special product is needed to wash a car. Here's the process I know: Squirt a little dishwashing soap (the kind you use to wash dishes in the sink, not a kind made for a machine) in a 5 gallon bucket. With the bathtub spigot, fill it up with warm water. While it's filling dig around in the bathroom closet and make a stack of the oldest towels you have. Throw a nice big sponge in the bucket and lug it outside. After washing, rinse with fresh water from the hose. Now here is the important step: before the rinse water dries on the car, towel it off. This is what leaves the car free of spots. I think even if there isn't sunlight, you really need to dry the car -- but especially if there is sun or it's really hot. At this time I would go out for ice cream but I admit that's not a necessary step.
posted by fritley at 10:25 PM on April 24, 2009

Two more options:

1. Wash in the evening
2. Use a canopy
posted by rhizome at 10:56 PM on April 24, 2009

Personally, I just go to one of the coin-operated manual carwashes. You know, the kind with the quarter-a-minute powerwasher that'll dispense seemingly everything from soap to wax to perfume.

At fritley's right. You must dry the car. If you just let it air dry, you'll get water spots.
posted by Netzapper at 11:24 PM on April 24, 2009

Best answer: Ever notice when your car has been parked by sprinklers, spots occur?
Because even plain tap water has minerals that leave spots, as well as acting like miniature magnifying glasses that can damage the car's paint.

So, washing in shade (indirect sunlight) is best and the paint should be cool to the touch.
Don't wash the car in the direct sun unless you can work small areas at a time and remove the water immediately before it dries.

Use plain water and a sponge. Do not use dishwashing soap, it will remove the wax protecting your paint.
I wouldn't even suggest car wash liquid, but it is formulated milder than dish soap.
posted by artdrectr at 11:31 PM on April 24, 2009

I use a California Water Blade, which is a large, soft squeegee. You can get 98% of the water off your car in no time, then clean up the remainder with a towel, before it has a chance to dry and spot.
posted by magicbus at 4:43 AM on April 25, 2009

If you're going to use some Dawn or other dishwashing soap, PLEASE wax the car after it! Dishwashing soap is great for removing wax, but not for a normal quick wash. I use Prima Mystique and I rather like it. It's great for when you DON'T want to strip wax off during a wash.

One little tip I learned, and love: after washing, when you're ready to rinse off the car, take off the nozzle on the hose (or open it all the way). Then rinse the car off. If done right, most of the water should sheet off the car by itself, cutting down on how much you need to dry.

I also love Prima Hydro. After you rinse the car but before you dry it, you spray some Hydro on and it waxes as you dry. Great stuff.
posted by Tu13es at 4:48 AM on April 25, 2009

Best answer: The Mr.Clean Auto Wash actually does work as advertised. You really can get a spot-free wash with it. It's kind of an awkward handful to work with, in actual usage, though.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:25 AM on April 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

My ex always used Tide mixed with very hot water in a large bucket with sponges for washing her car. I always thought it was strange, but the car always came out beautiful, even when cleaned in the sun (as long as the car was dried after rinsing).
posted by eye of newt at 4:59 PM on April 25, 2009

And if you want to be fancy, get a chamois for the drying part -- it won't get 100% saturated like a regular towel will. Rinse it, squeeze it and let it dry and it'll be soft and ready for your next car wash.
posted by amanda at 7:04 PM on April 25, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for all the tips. I think I might check out the Mr Clean Auto Wash ( it seems to have gotten a lot of good reviews), California waterblade and the Prima products. And also invest in a good quality chamois. I guess I was hoping for some magic washing formula that would eliminate the drying step and more importantly the dreaded waterspots.

Thanks again!
posted by Taurid at 9:28 AM on April 28, 2009

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